Aug 4, 2020

Mystery Alumnus Donates €260k to Lab-Based PhD Students

Half of the funding has so far been used by PhD students.

Cormac WatsonEditor
Sinéad Baker for The University Times

An anonymous donor has set aside €260,000 to pay the monthly stipends for PhD students whose lab-based projects were interrupted by the coronavirus lockdown.

The donor, who is a former student of Trinity, made the donation after reaching out to the College in response to Trinity Alumni and Development’s request for donations to ease the effects of the coronavirus on students.

Some 87 PhD students are eligible for the monthly stipend, and will be able to receive the stipend for up to four months.


College extended the academic deadlines for PhD students. However, some external funders did not extend their funding to cover the period leading up to the new deadline.

Speaking to The University Times, Senior Tutor Aidan Seery said that when the external funders were contacted, they said “that they could accept the fact that the projects would come in late, but that they had already budgeted for these projects and they would not be able to extend the funding that is used as a monthly stipend for these students”.

The donor, Seery said, wanted to make a “substantial donation” but wanted it to be set aside for a specific cause. Seery and Provost Patrick Prendergast recommend that the donation be made to these lab-based PhD students.

The whole €260,000 may not be used, if some external funders decide to continue to fund projects or if students finish their projects early. So far, half of the funds have been given to PhD students.

“It is very important for people like me who administer the College hardship fund to say to students: ‘Do you know that this money has come from people just like yourself who were in College 10 or 15 years ago and who did very well?’ They have come back to help the next generation”, Seery said.

The donation will be run through the Senior Tutor’s office and administered by Postgraduate Support Officer Martin McAndrew.

In a video on Twitter, Provost Patrick Prendergast described the donation as “most generous”, and praised other Trinity alumni who have made donations in recent months to a fund set up by Trinity in response to the coronavirus.

“I think we can all empathise with what students are going through and acknowledge that while none of this is easy for any of us, it’s particularly difficult for our students”, the Provost added.

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